He was only 18, but it was becoming clear “little” Stevie Wonder was going to become a big star. On this day in 1968, he put out his eleventh album overall, For Once In My Life. A busy teen, it was his second album of that fall alone, following the overlooked instrumental work, Eivets Rednow (which was his name spelled backwards, in case you’re wondering.)
While not as great as much of the work that he brought out in the following decade, it gave us a clear indication of the talent he had…and would continue to develop. For example, it was the first record on which he used the clavinet, an instrument he would become the master on with later songs like “Superstition”. Although he had lots of help in the studio for this album, he did play harmonica, drums and various other percussion instruments on it, and co-wrote eight of the 12 tunes. An indication perhaps of how excited about Stevie Motown was – one of the songs on the album, “The House on the Hill” was co-written by the label’s owner, Berry Gordy.
Among the noteworthy tracks on it were “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Day”, which became his sixth U.S. top 10 single, his cover of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” and the great title track, which hit #2 in the U.S. #3 in the UK and #5 in Canada. However, allmusic (which rated the album as 3-stars, calling it “one of Wonder’s more consistent albums of the ’60s”) said the “real find” on it was “I Don’t Know Why”, which became a top 40 hit as a two-sided single. The other side was pretty good too, the song which would end up being the title track to his next album, “My Cherie Amour.”